Happy World Book day everyone! After the excitement of the Book Oscars and the Read Regional this week, we just had to do a world book trail on World Book Day
And this is the book – a travel memoir with a difference –
There are three different ones in three different countries – Spain, Japan and the Ukraine
So, do you fancy a trip around the world on World Book Day? The booktrail did!
Camino de Santiago in Spain
This was the most interesting one since it brought back many memories of my own backpacking and walking days. The etiquette of talking to other walkers of finding out their own reasons for walking such a route is as fascinating to the writer as it was to read about –
The major etiquette point on route is the phrase ‘Buen Camino’. It’s a salutation and a valediction, but its most important role is in establishing boundaries.’
We get buen camino’d with some frequency
I smiled at the latter quote – Buen Camino translates as ‘ Enjoy your walk’ ‘Have a good journey’ and is a nicer phrase than our English ‘ Hello’ that we tend to say to passing hikers. It’s nice to talk to people on your journey and wonder why they are doing it – are they there for the same reasons as you?
The Santiago de Camino is a very famous religious pilgrimage of tracing the route of an old roman road in Spain. This is perhaps the most traditional of the writer’s pilgrimages – he is accompanied by a friend and meets many people along the way which makes for some interesting observations –
If Catholics see the reward for arrival as full plenary indulgence, ‘The rest of us are cagey about what to expect. But almost every pilgrim we meet over the next thirty-nine days admits to some feeling, however muted or vague, of transition or crisis.
The scenery is vividly described –
The path is cut between the bald foothills of the Pyrenees on our right and some lowland pastures on our left.
Blue and yellow scallop-shell waymarkers…
In this sense, Spain’s Santiago pilgrimage is seen as moving in a straight line and getting on with the future – the devout walker wants to get-out-of-purgatory.
And the booktrail was especially happy to read that the author and his friend were actually on their very own book trail and not just for the book they would later write. As Tom lies injured, he finds out about the medical practices described in a certain book –
Tom’s been rereading Homage to Catalonia and he finds the archaism appealing, but the medic insists that it will only result in infection.
I wanted to linger on this route, but we were off to Japan next….
The second is to 88 temples around the perimeter of Japan – a circle of discovery if you will.
At the gate of one of the temples –
Beyond the gate there’s a little spring under a roof with long-handled tin ladles for ritual hand washing….and tied in ribbons are pieces of green paper. These are fortunes…
The trip around 88 temples sees the author visiting a world that not many of us have or will have the pleasure of visiting. I wish we could have spent more time looking and appreciating them as I didn’t think the author did sometimes but there is the little gems that he tells us about such as the Japanese tale of an old beggar and Temple 12 – Shozanji was a particularly nice travel anecdote.
Once again his travelling companion is reading a book to help him experience even more of where he is – by reading on location so to speak –
Max reads a book about Japanese Buddhism…
This part of the trail was fascinating if not for the exotic environment the author found himself in and the sheer challenge of attempting to visit so much Japanese heritage. Quite a remarkable journey to do no doubt.
Sorry but we have to leave it there although there is so much to read and experience here for yourself.
Next on the trails – Ukraine!
This is a journey done for the celebration of Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year, where he is accompanied by his father and brother. Uman sits on the Kiev Odessa route –
It was already clear, if only by the costumes, that the journey to Uman was much closer to the medieval side of the pilgrimage spectrum than the contemporary one.
It is a story about Jewish persecution and is not a story I knew much about. The Jews take this trip in order to celebrate Rosh Hashanah at the grave of Rav Nachman of Breslov, the founding of the Breslov Hasidic movement of the Jewish faith. The history of what happened in the Ukraine to the Jews is not one really covered here but a quick Google search will tell you the raw shocking facts.
It has been said to remind many a reader of Eat Pray Love but this one is more inward looking and sometimes to the detriment to the flow of his travels. Yet he takes us around three fascinating places, ever searching for his sense of direction.
It has definitely made me want to go to these places myself.